OKEECHOBEE — The Okeechobee High School Lady Brahmans varsity soccer team rallied from being down 2-1 against Sebring on Nov. 19 to take a 6-4 victory. The win is the Lady Brahman’s second in four days following their 6-2 defeat of DeSoto County back on Nov. 15 and brings their record to 2-1 on the year.
The Lady Brahmans are off to a fast start in 2019. They’ve already scored a total of 13 goals in three games this season. In comparison, Okeechobee scored only 19 goals all season last year.
Despite the offensive explosion, coach Eric Swant says the defensive play has been the biggest game-changer so far.
“The defense has been our strongest point this year,” explained Swant. “Five hundred percent better than we have been in the past. Our game against DeSoto was the best game we played yet. The team came together and did everything we’ve talked about doing throughout our conditioning and preseason.”
The Lady Brahmans trailed Sebring 2-1 after the first half. And when Sebring opened the second half with a quick strike to go up 3-1, it looked like Okeechobee would be facing an uphill battle for the remainder of the game. But the Lady Brahmans evened things back up when Okeechobee sophomore Kaitlyn Guerrero scored back-to-back goals to make the score 3-3.
All throughout the second half the Lady Brahmans were aggressive on offense, putting multiple shots on Sebring’s goal. During one of those attempts, Sebring’s goalie made the mistake of coming out of the box and impeding a goal attempt by Okeechobee senior Laura Sanchez. The foul gave the referee no option but to pull his red card and send the goalie off the field, forcing Sebring to finish the game with only 10 players on the field.
Sanchez was awarded a penalty kick for the foul, and she took advantage of the opportunity and scored to put Okeechobee up 4-3.
That score held until late in the second half when Sebring hit the equalizing goal to make it 4-4 with less than eight minutes remaining.
Sebring didn’t get to enjoy the tie for long, though.
It only took Okeechobee sophomore Isabella Saucedo 15 seconds to respond with a goal of her own to give the Lady Brahmans the lead once more. A few minutes later, Kaitlyn Guerrero sunk any hope of a Sebring comeback with her third and final goal of the night to give the Lady Brahmans the 6-4 lead.
That late score meant Kaitlyn pulled off a hat trick against Sebring, with all of her goals coming in the second half.
“She’s been averaging about two points a game,” said Swant of Guerrero. “Wasn’t able to do anything in the first half so we had a talk at halftime. I was trying to make her mad, and I think it worked.”
The Lady Brahmans will now have a week off for Thanksgiving break, but will be back on the field on Dec. 4 to when they host Sebastian River.
“Overall, I can’t complain about anything we’re doing right now,” Swant concluded. “We’re definitely headed in the right direction.”